Russell Wilson is used to having detractors. He’s been dealing with critics his whole life, in not one but two sports. Between media and former coaches, heck, even his old teammates used to doubt him at one point.
Former Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson, who was teammates with Wilson from 2012-13, was the latest guest on the Talkin’ Seahawks Podcast. He told NBC Sports Northwest that there were some veterans ready to pull the plug on Wilson after just one start in 2012.
In his NFL debut against the Arizona Cardinals, Wilson completed just 18-of-34 pass attempts for 153 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was also sacked three times. Seattle lost that game, 20-16.
“I remember guys on that plane ride going back saying, ‘We need to sit Russell. Play the other guy,’” Robinson recalled, referring obviously to Matt Flynn as the other guy. “Russell was sitting around hearing all of this, and he came out the next week, and he played with passion.
“He played with emotion. It’s almost like he wanted to make up for that performance because he knew he’d let some older guys down.”
Wilson was an efficient 15-of-20 for 151 yards, one touchdown and no picks in Seattle’s win against the Cowboys the following week.
“It was in that moment when I said, ‘OK, we’ve got something a little special with Russell Wilson,’” Robinson said.
But just cause Robinson and the rest of the Seahawks locker room bought in on their rookie QB, much of the football world remained skeptical. The narrative of Wilson needing a strong running game and a dominant defense still lingers today.
Robinson believes Wilson is in the “elite category” of current NFL quarterbacks, but he recognizes that many don’t share that sentiment.
“I know there are some haters out there who don’t like when I say that,” Robinson said.
Which is shocking, really. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir for anyone who is reading this, but it’s wild that Wilson has any skeptics at all. He’s tied as the winningest quarterback ever over a QB's first eight NFL seasons, and he’s led the Seahawks to the postseason seven times. He’s a six-time Pro Bowler and was named second-team All-Pro in 2019.
Something would have to go catastrophically wrong in order for Wilson to not be enshrined in Canton one day. And yet, Robinson explained that Wilson’s detractors will follow him all the way to the Hall of Fame if he’s unable to win another ring.
“If Russell can lead a team to a Super Bowl and win it, just off his abilities – because most people would say we won that Super Bowl off our running game and defense,” Robinson said. “If he can get this Seahawks team back in that type of position, I think you’ll see the narrative change about Russell Wilson.”
Fair or unfair (you know which way I lean), Robinson is probably right. The good news for Wilson and the Seahawks is that as long as he’s under center, Seattle should remain an annual playoff contender.